Highlights from the Deep In Cascadia Poetics Retreat and Poetry Bash


Last month we held our first Deep In Cascadia Poetics Retreat and Poetry Bash. With a bioregional focus, the retreat is an intimate venue for poets with a dedicated commitment to collaborative craft, during which they spend a weekend listening and learning from each other as a way to deepen their work. The “bash” is a way to share this work with the public.

We, the co-directors, are still coasting on inspiration and are grateful to everyone who attended. Andrew Engelson wrote a fantastic article for his Cascadia Daily newsletter  (to which we highly recommend subscribing).

The attendees engaged in “breakout sessions” of their own creation, from using “impersonal voice”, to how the poem holds space for sacred experience, (and also for a sacred no),  to discussing ancient Chinese poetry, to dialogue on all aspects of “borders” and being “unsettled”, to questions on how to write about the natural world in these troubling times.

We’d like to thank Barry McKinnon, Ed Varney and George Stanley for being our resident literary elders, Paul Nelson for his sage advice and for bringing a contingent up from the U.S., climate scientist Dominick DellaSala for his engaging presentation on life arising from burned forests and his work at the U.S. capital around climate change (complete with poetry and song),  Shannon Bailey for her tireless volunteerism (our right-hand woman) and our other volunteers as well: Adele Campbell and Ed Varney for their work at the book table, Louie Adell at the door, and David Freeman who helped with the audio and visual during Dominick’s talk.

Denis Mair with retreat co-director Danika Dinsmore.
Dominick DellaSala with a slide of “muzzled” scientists posing in front of the White House









Barry McKinnon reading with Dan Kirk listening very attentively!


A very special thank you to Wedlidi Speck, a Namgis elder and hereditary chief for his exceptionally moving talk on Sunday morning. Many people felt this was the highlight of the weekend. He shared with us about the role of elders in his life growing up and gently encouraged us to connect to our own indigenous roots whatever they were, write from a place of integrity as we define it, and know that we are all worthy of having a deep connection to this land.

With Wedlidi at the Abbey after our closing circle. Front row: Ian Cognito, George Stanley, Lorraine Martiniuk, Ed Varney, Shannon Bailey, Paul Nelson, Louie Stephenson. Back row: Carla Stein, Rob Lewis, Ramon Kubicek, Wedlidi Speck, Adelia MacWilliam, Nadine Maestas, Dan Kirk, Matt Trease. Taking photo: Danika Dinsmore

In solidarity,
Adelia and Danika



Three “Poets with Hats” beneath the Riding Fool Hostel sign, where most of the retreat took place. (We wanted to change it to Writing Fool!) Retreat co-director Adelia MacWilliam with Paul Nelson (Seattle Poetics LAB) and fellow Cumbie poet Louie Stevenson.
Members of the Cascadia Poetics Lab Board from left to right in the back: Ed Varney, Louie Stephenson, Carla Stein. Front from left to right, Danika Dinsmore, Adelia MacWillam. Missing: Sophie Gilmore.














3 Replies to “Highlights from the Deep In Cascadia Poetics Retreat and Poetry Bash”

  1. Thank you for news of all that is happening in your vibrant poetry / writing scene. I hope I’ll get back to the Red Tree reading at some point. My son now lives in Duncan which seems to be at least part way there!

    What is that wonderful salmon image in your header?
    Best wishes, Pam

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